Tale of two rallies in Telangana: Rahul focuses on Mahakootami; Modi blames Congress again

At an election rally in Telangana, Modi’s efforts to frustrate the coming together of the opposition into a Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) are clearly visible

By KV Lakshmana

The developing Telangana political situation can best be summed by the tale of two election rallies – one by UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and the other by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi – and the contrasting response they evoked from the crowds that assembled to hear the two national leaders.

Political observers who watched both the rallies said that while the crowd at Sonia Gandhi’s Medchal rally was enthusiastic and responsive, the large audience at Modi’s rally at Mahboobnagar looked less so.

“He is not speaking anything new, only blaming the past Congress leaders and launching into a tirade against Rahul Gandhi and Sonia Gandhi,” said a political analyst who saw a clear-cut game plan in the Prime Minister’s speeches – of preparing for 2019 general elections rather than canvassing for the December 7 assembly elections. By singling out the Congress for special attack and isolating it from the rest of the opposition, the Prime Minister revealed his clear-cut plan to drive a wedge between the opposition parties, said a political commentator.

At an election rally in Telangana, the Prime Minister said even an Akhilesh or a Mamata or a Mayawati was still acceptable but not the Congress. His efforts to frustrate the coming together of the opposition into a Mahagathbandhan (grand alliance) were clearly visible at the Telangana rally.

But for the record, the Prime Minister did tear into Telangana Chief K Chandrasekhar Rao and his family for “destroying Telangana” given the occasion. The BJP is also contesting in Telangana, where it has five MLAs and hopes to make significant gains.

Here too, the Prime Minister took good care to blame the Congress as the entity that trained KCR in destroying the state. Both Congress and TRS are dynastic parties, have no inner democracy and play appeasement politics.

“This diatribe against the ruling party is only to be expected from the top BJP leader as his party is also contesting in the state. Modi and Shah are the type of politicians who will not leave any state just because they don’t have a chance. But, what in essence they may be doing is to cut into anti-establishment vote and thus hit at the Congress,” opined Prof K Nageswar, a Hyderabad-based political analyst.

Addressing a joint rally with Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, AICC president Rahul Gandhi declared that the Mahakootami was forming the government in Telangana

One thing that has for sure happened over the last fortnight or so is that the opposition has caught up with the TRS that at one time seemed to be running away with the ball, said Prof Nageswar and adding “now there is a keen battle on in Telangana.” It is difficult to predict at this stage as to who will win and this is not a situation that was visualised a few months ago, he said.

Just three months ago it seemed as if nothing could go wrong for Telangana Chief Minister KCR and his party, TRS. It was this confidence that made KCR dissolve the assembly nine months ahead of schedule and go for elections. What the decision triggered off was silver quick political realignment in Telangana that could shape the national realignment of political forces for the 2019 general elections, depending on the results in the elections to Telangana, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Mizoram.

Addressing a joint rally with Telugu Desam Party supremo N Chandrababu Naidu, AICC president Rahul Gandhi on Wednesday, November 28, declared that the Mahakootami was forming the government in Telangana. “Today’s meeting is a significant indicator of the shape of national politics for the next general elections,” Rahul Gandhi said addressing a huge rally at Khammam.

“It is not just a fight for Telangana, but it is fight to rid the nation of the BJP,” Rahul Gandhi said charging Prime Minister Modi with destroying all institutions – Supreme Court, CBI, RBI or Election Commission,” Rahul Gandhi said expressing the confidence to “unseat Modi later in the general elections.”

For the present, the Congress led Mahakootami is taking on the B team of the BJP, the TRS and after defeating it in assembly elections and forming the government in Hyderabad, the Mahakootami will defeat the A team (BJP) in 2019 general elections, the AICC president said.

Rahul Gandhi painted the TRS as the handmaiden of the BJP, which too is facing some anti-incumbency as also negative publicity due to the aftershocks of demonetisation and GST, and said that while the Congress fought the ruling party at every step, the TRS supported the Modi government in everything. The TRS supported the BJP government in demonetisation, in president election, in GST, in no confidence motion and came to the help of the government whenever needed.

Incidentally, both the TRS and its ally MIM want Modi government to win, Rahul Gandhi charged.

In fact, political analysts do not rule out a ‘fixed match’ between TRS and the BJP and the heated exchanges between the two parties was just playing to the gallery.

Political analyst Sriram Karri dismissed the BJP as a political force of no consequence in Telangana and he expected the party to fare not much better than in last elections when it won five seats.

The BJP on its part hopes to win a few more seats and become the king-maker in the event of a hung assembly, that could be thrown up if the Congress ends up with a few seats less than is being anticipated at this time.

“For the present, it is touch and go, with a slight edge in favour of TRS,” Prof Nageswar said. But author and political analyst Karri reads the situation a bit differently. “The Congress is ahead and its campaign is picking momentum. With few more big rallies planned in the next week, the party can only gain further,” he said adding “there are chances that the Congress along with its alliance partners could cross the finishing line.”

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